Joan Stephens

Six-year-old Cathy Chandler wanted a pony and like most six-year-olds she wanted it now. The fact that she lived in the city and had no way to keep one didn’t faze her in the least. She had it all worked out. She lived across from Central Park and would keep her pony there. There was lots of grass and the lake was nearby so he wouldn’t starve or go thirsty. She waited impatiently until her parents asked her what she would like for her birthday. When she told them that she wanted a pony, they had refused her and tried to explain, but she wouldn’t listen. She recalled that her best friend, Bonnie, had thrown a tantrum and had gotten what she wanted; so, she decided to do the same, shocking the heck out of her parents when she threw herself on the floor and started to scream. Without a word, they took her by the hand and marched her to her bedroom and told her she could come out when she had quieted down and apologized. She kept on screaming for awhile and then stopped, waiting for them to come in and tell her that she would get her pony. The apartment was eerily silent; there was not even the sound of the tv playing. She put her ear to the door but heard nothing. Suddenly, she felt lonely, but she could last as long as they could. She just knew that they would eventually give into her. Throwing herself on the bed–the floor was just too hard–she began screaming again. Nothing happened this time either. It finally penetrated that they weren’t going to give into her. She laid in her bed, sobbing. There would be no pony, and if they were angry with her, there might not be a birthday party. But she wasn’t going to apologize. No way! She lay there sniffing and hiccuping for what seemed like forever, but there was no knock on the door.

She fell asleep and dreamed of a little golden-haired boy who couldn’t even see the sun. When she awoke, it was twilight and she had missed dinner. No one had come to get her. Deciding that she had been wrong–she had so much more than the boy in her dream–she quietly opened the door and went to find her parents. They were calmly sitting in her father’s library. Sternly, they looked at her. She felt like a criminal. Then her mother held out her arms, and Cathy ran into them, apologizing over and over again. She said that she’d never do that again.

Her father sat her on his knee and said, "Do you know why we punished you?" She shrugged her shoulders; she needed to understand. "In this world there are many children who do not even have decent clothes to wear, decent food to eat, or an adequate place to sleep . . ." She thought about the boy in her dream. Charles continued, " . . . and you have a tantrum because you want a pony? Something that you don’t need and couldn’t have in the city, anyway. You have all you need to keep you healthy and happy, don’t you?" She agreed. "What would you like to do about this situation?"

She thought for a few minutes. "How much does a pony cost?"

After he had told her, she said, "Could we donate that amount to some charity that takes care of children?"

Charles face lit up like a lantern and he hugged her joyfully. When she looked up into his eyes, she saw tears of love there, and she found the same tears in her mother’s eyes. She had redeemed herself.